In a similar way to the 2000 Limp Bizkit smash hit, the Vancouver Canucks keep rollin’, rollin’, rollin’, rollin’.
They have won seven of their last nine games and continue to make a push for the playoffs. The trade deadline also happens to be closing in and there are going to be some tough decisions after some strong debates in the management group. These debates are why Jim Rutherford wanted to assemble a management group with varying views of how a contender is built.
The Canucks are one of the hottest teams in the NHL since Bruce Boudreau took over. The team is 20-8-4 under Boudreau, and have been a playoff team in the Boudreau era.
Tough decisions will be made with the March 21st trade deadline quickly approaching, although there may be fewer fireworks than originally believed. We will have to wait and see.
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As for the current task at hand, we have a mailbag to write and as per usual, there are a ton of great questions to work through.
Let’s open up the mailbag and see what the wonderful people of Canucks Twitter had to ask this week.
There is a strong argument for Will Lockwood to get a run in the NHL this season. In my eyes, that’s exactly what it needs to be — a run. Lockwood isn’t going to be called up to sit in the press box, he is doing too much in the AHL to have him be nothing but an extra skater in the NHL.
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We also know that a team run by Rutherford and Allvin is content with having their prospects over-marinate in the AHL. The extra time in the AHL isn’t going to hurt Lockwood.
The 23-year-old winger is being trusted as the top penalty-killing winger on the AHL team and is consistently playing on top-six lines. The part of Lockwood’s game that I am really enjoying is his confidence in his physical game. He is a much more annoying confident player than he was in his rookie AHL season where he wasn’t as comfortable mixing it up with opponents.
We will see Lockwood in the NHL soon enough but there is no rush for that to be this season. This is the type of player that Boudreau would like. Lockwood is ultra-competitive and his best weapon is his willingness to throw his body at anything.
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Jake Livingstone is considering the Canucks but sources tell me that there are a lot of teams interested in the 6’3”, right-shot defenceman.
I’ve got a call set up with his camp on Monday afternoon. I hope the Canucks will schedule one soon.
There is no update from the team on Brandon Sutter’s status when it comes to returning to the NHL. Sutter can be spotted in the press box and seems to be around the team a lot but his future is still in question.
It’s really too bad because Canucks fans were excited to see what Sutter could bring to this team as a player making a million dollars. This long-haul COVID is no joke and I hope that it doesn’t affect his living outside of the rink. Sutter is a family man and the hope is that his illness doesn’t change too many things in his life away from hockey.
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Don’t look now, but the Abbotsford Canucks are the hottest team in the AHL and have the second-best power play in the league.
Trent Cull is coaching a well-oiled machine right now in the AHL and showing that development is happening with players like Danila Klimovich, Will Lockwood, and Chase Wouters.
When you throw Curtis Stanford’s goaltending coaching into the mix, there is some real development happening in the AHL. Mikey DiPietro is finding his game after a couple of strong starts in his most recent games and we all know that Spencer Martin has taken a massive jump in his play.
I’d imagine that Burrows enjoys coaching in Montreal and maybe years down the road we see him behind the Vancouver bench but as for Abbotsford, you can’t knock what they have been doing lately.
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The players and Canucks’ staff members that I’ve spoken with are big supporters of Cull and assistant coach Gary Agnew. The addition of skating coach Mackenzie Braid and the continued excellence of goalie coach Curtis Sanford has rounded into a pretty good coaching and development staff out there in Abbotsford this season. You can add the analytics and video work of Ian Beckenstein as well, the AHL team has had a big upgrade to what we saw in the Utica days.
It’s a very weird playoff bracket, I’ll say that off the top.
23 of the 31 AHL teams make the playoffs.
Six teams from the Atlantic division make the playoffs with the top two teams having a bye to the second round.
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Five teams from the North division make the playoffs with the top three seeds getting a bye into the second round.
The Central is the same as the North.
Now, it gets funky in the Pacific Division. Seven teams make the playoffs with one team getting a bye to the second round.
The first round is a three-game series.
After the first round, there will be four teams in each division. They will have five-game series’ to see who moves on to the division finals.
The division finals are also five-game series’.
The winner of the Atlantic will play the winner of the Central in a best-of-seven series while the winner of the Pacific faces the winner of the North in a seven-game series of their own.
After all of that, we will have two final teams who will compete for the Calder Cup in a best-of-seven series.
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The AHL playoffs are wild. A team could end up playing 27 hour games if all of their series’ went the distance.
From a Canucks perspective, they are locked into an AHL playoff spot right now and will likely face one of the third of fourth-seeded teams in the Pacific Division.
I’ll give you one of each three options because the Canucks only have three open contract spots right now.
European Free Agent: Rickard Hugg is a former OHL captain who is currently playing on a line with Canucks’ prospect Linus Karlsson. He’s a 23-year-old who has played very well in the SHL this season.
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I’d keep an eye on him once he becomes a free agent this summer.
NCAA Free Agent: I do believe the Canucks will be in on Jake Livingstone. He will have a chance to immediately step in and play in the AHL and could work his way into NHL games very fast.
I’ll report more in the very near future.
CHL Free Agents: A few graduating CHL names I’d watch are Connor Horning, Arshdeep Bains, Nathan Staios, Vincent Sevigny, and Tyson Feist.
All of these players have the skill to play in the AHL at the end of this season and onwards.
That wraps it up for another Monday Mailbag here at CanucksArmy! Thanks, as always, to the great people of Canucks Twitter for their questions. We literally couldn’t do this without them.
I hope you enjoyed this week’s mailbag and let’s roll into another fun week of Canucks’ hockey!
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